FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2010
Contact: Michael Cox (503) 986-1904
House Transportation Committee Hears Positive Reports on
Jobs and the Economy
SALEM – The House Transportation Committee, Chaired by Representative Terry Beyer (D-Springfield), today heard positive reports on jobs and economic growth as a result of passage of the landmark Jobs and Transportation Act and legislative participation in the deepening of the Columbia River Chanel.
“There are positive signs that an economic recovery is starting to take hold in Oregon,” said Rep. Beyer. “Our goal has been to do all we can to create jobs and foster growth. Today we heard testimony that shows we are helping move the ball forward.”
The committee heard testimony from Doug Tindall, the Deputy Director of the Oregon Department of Transportation, on the status of transportation investments across Oregon. The State Legislature passed the Jobs and Transportation Act in 2009, which is expected to create 4,600 jobs per year over the next decade. The package raises $300 million annually for transportation projects. The bill provides cities and counties with 50% of the $300 million raised. It sets aside an additional $100 million for rail, marine, air, transit and train projects under the Connect Oregon III program. And it uses $70 million annually to bond $1 billion worth of road projects to reduce congestion and improve freight mobility.
“The bottom line is that there are 12,500 Oregonians working on transportation projects that might not otherwise have jobs,” said Representative Nick Kahl (D-East Multnomah County), Vice Chair of the House Transportation Committee.
The committee also heard testimony from Keith Leavitt, the General Manager Business Development and Properties at the Port of Portland, titled “Preparing for Future Cargo Growth and Job Creation in Oregon.” The dredging of the Columbia River channel, from 40 feet to 43 feet, has been 20 years in the making. The goal of the project is to make the channel accessible for newer, larger vessels. Oregon State government, together with the Washington State government, federal government and a broad collection of sponsors, joined forces to boost trade and ease the movement of freight for the six ports in the region.
Already, Westwood Shipping Lines signed a service agreement that provides exporters in the Northwest with direct access to Japanese ports. The deal sets aside space for more than 200 containers per month on ships headed to Japan from the Northwest.
“This is a perfect example of the long term investments we’ve been making to set Oregon on a successful path for the future,” said Speaker of the House Dave Hunt. “Several years ago, when we embarked on this channel deepening project and our investments in Connect Oregon, we knew that when it was completed, we would see economic vitality improve along the Columbia River. This benefits our agricultural community and other businesses that rely heavily on exports. We’ll see the same benefits from the transportation projects and the capital construction projects we approved these past two years. Our economy is definitely improving and these new international lines of freight service will provide some additional momentum forward.”